About Jim Bamboulis
Jim Bamboulis has held several posts over the past 12 years, including National Sportscaster, Food Host and Writer, Talk Show Host, Olympic Researcher and Travel Film-maker.
Born and raised in Toronto, Jim learned early on that the combination of travel and food meant ultimate living. Combining his insatiable creative spirit and desire to document his travels, Jim took his unshakable travel bug and set off to explore. Add the fact that Jim also grew up in a Greek household and he learned that not only does Mom always make the best meals, but as importantly learned the importance of understanding and appreciating the countless beautiful cultures and the integral role food plays in every corner of the World.
In August 2009, Jim founded Travel Mammal, a site that brings together his travels and experiences (both good and terrifying) with the hope that others are inspired to share their own. We are all storytellers, especially when it comes to travel and food. He urges everyone to be inspired, explore and love the world and the people that share it with us. Or in other words, Live to Travel and travel to live!
Latest Posts by Jim Bamboulis
Every year, right before Christmas the flagship Hudson’s Bay store in Toronto puts together an incredible display of Christmas celebration and cheer. 5 windows along very busy Queen Street West (just west of Yonge Street) are decorated with elaborate, detailed and festive Christmas scenes that conjure all sorts of warm, fuzzy feelings to all those who walk by them.
You can’t help but stop, take a pic or two and admire how the craftsmanship is done!
Letters and lists
They’re only around for a limited time and are definitely worth the visit!
On days like this, people generally stay inside, read a book, watch a movie, maybe get drunk or write a blog post. Sometimes in that order, sometimes not. Many though decide to venture out.
Some drive. Here’s what Toronto roads look like when it snows.
Sure, turn around on a hill
It may not look bad but the first one is always the toughest
Sure, if you must drive you have little choice but to battle the traffic. Yes, tempers flare and yes Toronto does have hills. They aren’t San Francisco type hills but this city has inclines that, on days like this, make it feel like you’re tobogganing in a car with plenty of backsliding, and back bumper to front bumper accidents.
Let me just go ahead and cause a potential shit storm
Causing a shit storm. Can you hear the honking horns?
There are particular parts of the city that cause greater chaos than others. This hill in mid-town Toronto is notorious for slipping, sliding and all sorts of chaotic activity. In the past, there have been people who have gotten the balls to do this…and make it successfully!
In fact, when the snow is really bad, as it is today, the TV cameras show up. Filming the chaos and gathering sound bites for everyone to see, hear and judge those who decided to drive on a day like this.
We’re the News.
Now, back to that book, bag of chips, movie and drink. Potentially in that order.
A while ago, I wrote about the Great Gum Wall of Seattle. Yummy. And in my quest to see unusual attractions, I was told to drive a bit north of the downtown Seattle core…to find the Emerald City’s Fremont Troll.
You wonder? It is an 18 foot high sculpture built by 4 Artists nearly 25 years ago. Their goal was to create something that would help clean up this area of the city, through art. It worked.
The Fremont Troll is a major attraction. And as you’ll see, young and old still like to climb on it, pose in front of it and just stare at it.
If the frappe was around thousands of years ago, I guarantee it that Socrates and Plato would have taken a break from their philosophizing, taken a walk to the village square, pulled up a couple of chairs and ordered a few. Maybe even one to go.
In the 50′s, two Greeks working for Nestle, Yiannis Dritsas and Dimitris Vakondios, invented what has long been considered by many to be the National Drink of Greece. And if you’re familiar at all with Greek culture, coffee always plays a central role in any Greek-inspired symposium, no matter what time of day or night.
With the likes of Starbucks and McDonald’s featuring it on their respective menus, the frappe is being enjoyed worldwide. Although it’s not the same as the Greek-style original, it’s a good effort. But now, you don’t have to depend on someone making it for you. With a few easy steps, you can make an authentic Greek-style frappe in your own home.
There are two types of Greek coffee. One is hot, often quite strong and made in a delicate and intricate manner using a briki. The frappe meanwhile is prepared with a shaker, served cold, with three degrees of sweetness, determined by the amount of sugar and coffee used. Follow this recipe:
- Look at the size of your pinky finger. Note the length of it. Now take a cocktail mixer or hand shaker and fill it with cold water using that exact length. (You don’t want too much water in the shaker at the start)
- Take desired amount of coffee and sugar and mix with water.
- Shake the mixer or shaker for about 45 seconds until you see a foamy top.
- Empty contents into a desired glass (usually, standard drinking glass).
- Add more water (about 1/3 of a cup).
- Add about 1/3 cup of Milk.
- Add ice cubes; they keep the beverage around them cold (obviously) but when mixed with the warmer water on the bottom of the glass, produce a consistent coolness.
- Use a drinking straw to mix the foam with the ice cubes and coffee. To many, the sound of the straw moving around and mixing all of the ingredients is what truly creates an authentic frappe drinking experience. And again, using the straw maintains the consistent texture and flavour of the drink.
As far as varying degrees of sweetness is concerned, take a look below and determine which one suits you best:
- Sweet (2 tsp coffee and 4 tsp sugar and often mixed with milk)
- Medium (equivalent to a double-double)
- Straight (no sugar)
Frankly, I love sitting on a patio and people watching while drinking a frappe on a hot day. But of course, everyone enjoys it their own way.
Ask yourself, why do Greeks love the frappe so much? Why is so much time and money devoted to it on a daily basis? Life is meant to be appreciated, absorbed and analyzed using the art of passionate conversation. A frappe forces one to slow down once in a while and smell the coffee, sorta-speak. But most of all, it unites people, inspires those passionate talks.
In every sense, it’s a way of life!
Photo credit: greece. greekreporter. com
When I was a kid my Mom would save up her very hard earned money and take me to Greece to …
And if you’ve just watched Taxi Driver with Robert Deniro, you may be inspired to add ‘step on it’ in a grungy New York accent. Albeit tempting and funny, it’s up to you. Cabbies already have enough wise guys in their cars. But who knows, you may get a chuckle and an inflated final tab. Lucky you.
Back to the point.
When you get into a taxi, do you find yourself unconsciously, automatically opening the back door, sitting and delegating from the back seat? Sure, we all have. Can’t help it, I guess. But have you ever stopped to think about it?
I hadn’t. Until recently. Nobody ever explained cab etiquette to me. Does such a thing even exist? I guess it has always been understood that the first rule of cabbing it is to always sit in the back. Nobody ever asked why and it was never a conversation piece. In my experience being in Toronto, almost everyone unconsciously hops in the back. Nothing wrong with it, just funny.
Why do we do it? After all, we don’t sit in the back when our spouse or sibling drives us somewhere.
Of course, when we travel in larger groups, someone ends up sitting in the front. I’ve often been that guy and almost always strike up a conversation with the driver. Besides small talk, I ask how many people on average sit next to him on a fare. The answer that comes back is ‘not too many’.
Is it a comfort issue? Is it a class issue?
It might be both but I think it’s neither. It’s simply habit. Generally speaking, we don’t think much about habits like this. Too many other things to think about.
I also think cabbies prefer having passengers sit in the back. It’s safer and provides a space buffer between people whose relationship lasts mere minutes, from pick up to drop off. Nothing wrong with that, either.
How do you cab it? Are you an habitual back seat passenger or prefer to ride shotgun?
I can smell the Ocean. It’s around the corner. Round the bend, we enter Cannon Beach. Not too many people talk about Oregon’s coast. California gets all the attention. First time here. Don’t know what to expect.
That’s perfect. Love the unexpected. Especially when it’s a pleasant surprise.
An hour or so south of the Washington-Oregon border and about an hour west of Portland, Cannon Beach is a small seaside community. The type of town that probably welcomes new residents with apple pie, maybe even brownies and seafood.
West coast, laid back. What’s the rush after all? You’re on the edge of the continent. Sit, relax, have a drink and look out over the horizon. I do. With pleasure. And in doing so, I’m amazed at what I see.
With any coastline, you expect to see beauty. Sand, water and maybe even a cliff or two. Take some pictures and move on. But Cannon Beach has something more. In fact, its most popular attraction was unknown to me until I saw it myself.
A massive, awe-inspiring, jagged rock rising from the Ocean and sitting a few feet from the beach. It’s that moment during a trip that you’re hit with something so unexpected, that you’re forced to sit and process what you’re looking at, what’s happening, where you are.
Ever have that moment?
If you like seeing popular attractions during peak seasons, then May through September is your time of the year. But there’s also a beauty to this attraction during the winter months as well. Rain and strong winds add a certain je ne sais quoi to this giant piece of protruding basalt.
I recently came back from Seattle. I’ve been there twice now and both times I’ve visited, something new has been discovered. The first time, it was the Fremont Troll (more on that coming up on a different post). This time around, it was the Gum Wall.
Yeah, the Gum Wall which up until this point, didn’t know it existed.
Not only has it existed for the past 20 years but during that time, has become a MAJOR tourist attraction.
Considered to be one of the germiest attractions on the Planet (along with the Blarney Stone), Seattle’s Gum Wall is a somewhat hidden point of interest, located within the infamous Pike Market but below and slightly off the main market drag.
It’s not so much a single gum wall as it is several gum walls. An impressive compilation of gum built up and stuck on over the past 2 decades. It’s like a bunch of kids were asked to take the gum out of their mouths and instead of sticking it under their desks, they stuck it on the wall.
Most come to stick their own gum on the wall and make a design out of it. Many others come to take pictures while others come to lick the gum and have a picture of themselves licking the gum. There’s always a few of those in the crowd.
But in the grand scheme of things, I have to hand it to Seattle and to the residents of the city. Sure, the Space Needle and the Market get a lot of the attention and they should. These are legit attractions that define Seattle. However, this attraction is a unique oddity that makes a city dynamic and different. It seems cities everywhere these days have a tall building they count on for identity and pride. But few can boast about the legend and history of an attraction that makes everyone smile and adds a truly endearing quality to an ever-changing city like Seattle.
I hope the city doesn’t decide to scrape the gum off this wall. But just in case they do, here’s where you can find it. Get there while you can; here’s where you can find it.